Today we’d like to introduce you to Sky Palkowitz.
Sky, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am known universally as “The Delusional Diva”, my aka, my handle. I’m an Avant-Garde Multimedia Performance Artist and Actor/Director/Producer/ Educator/Character Illusionist… I’m a member of SAG-AFTRA and ACTOR’S EQUITY ASSOCIATION (AEA), and I am a filmmaker, writer, trained singer and musician, animal lover, activist, vegan, and gay. I can be seen in film, television, stage, and you can find me all over the world-wide-web. I’ve lived in LA for almost two decades and I love my communities.
I was born and raised in NY, so was fortunate enough to be exposed to theatre and culture from an early age. Broadway turned me on! I started competing in singing at age 8, and by freshman year of high school, I had found my calling on the stage, acting, touring, creating characters and doing musical theatre on a more professional level.
I spent a few years honing my craft at Suffolk Community College on Long Island, where I played many fabulous roles like Mother Superior in “Agnes of God”, Mrs. Smith in “The Bald Soprano”, Bunny Flingus in “The House of Blue Leaves”… Then in 1992, I was the youngest actor accepted amongst a pool of professional and seasoned actors from all over the country, to the nation’s most prestigious classical graduate conservatory, “The Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP)” at The University of Delaware. It was there that I got my real hard-core training, six days a week, 12-16 hours a day, developing my talents on all levels. It was a very physically and psychologically demanding program, and there I was trained vigorously to speak and live the great works of Shakespeare and the classics. The stage was my universe! Great tools for the stage and screen that I would keep with me as my career grows and blossoms.
I spent three years after that teaching Acting, Voice, and Theatre to undergraduates at The University of Iowa, where I completed my MFA in Acting and worked for three seasons at “Iowa Summer Repertory Festival”, playing great roles in Tony Kushner, Neil Simon and Arthur Miller plays. At Iowa, I began to learn about other types of performances and experiment with multimedia and interdisciplinary arts, writing my own avant-garde offerings and performing everywhere I could, using the world as my stage. I created, wrote, produced and directed “All About Malcolm”, my first multimedia extravaganza, and my senior thesis was my first solo show, “Alien Rhoda”, also a multimedia experience.
In my studies I learned about many solo artists, and the combination of being a teen in the 80’s and growing up in the drag queen scene and underground gay bars of NYC, combined with watching great entertainers like Penny Arcade, Lady Bunny, Lily Tomlin, Laurie Anderson, Anna Deavere Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, and John Leguizamo, I was hit with a fiery mass of inspiration, and I wanted to do it all and be all of it at once! So I started creating my own solo theatre.
My next adventure brought me to Chicago, where I toured for three years with “Imagination Theatre”, then two national west coast tours with “The National Theatre For Children”. I had traveled to hundreds of schools around the country and performed/moderated/scripted issue-based theatre to make a difference for hundreds of thousands of kids of all types, ages, backgrounds, upbringings… One thing that started to light me up was the ability to use theatre not only to entertain but to educate and inspire. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my heroes and heroines and create shows and characters and content that made people laugh, but also made them identify themselves in others, connect to the commonality of all people, to celebrate our differences and uplift the human spirit. So I took my next happenings to the road and began to receive great press and develop audiences in other parts of the country, playing Fringe Festivals and small theatres and widening my artistic scope. My solos in the late 90’s, “DELUSIONAL DIVA: CHEESE FOR THOUGHT” and “SYNAPSE HYSTERIA” made headlines in Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis… and I was ready to head to LA.
In 2000, I made the leap to the west coast and came to Hollywood to be a star! I immediately became the executive director of the “Women’s Theatre Company Los Angeles (WTCLA)”, and for three years, cast, taught, curated, and directed a company of professional female directors, playwrights, teachers, and actresses. I worked closely with Lily Tomlin’s first director, Irene Pinn, and produced “Delusional Diva: How Did I Get Here?” under her dramaturgy and direction, all the while having wild themed parties quite often with curated performances, visual art, comedy, film, music, community-stirring, artsy funky “happenings” with my art partner in West Hollywood.
In Los Angeles, I started meeting and working with some of the greats I had studied in grad school and quickly got introduced to the infamous Rachel Rosenthal, the “grande dame” of the solo theatre world, and we connected on a profound level. She became my mentor and I worked closely with her for nearly a decade. Rachel rocked my world. Rachel was my kindred spirit. She was the wisest person I had ever held court with, and the methods and techniques that she invoked in us to create avant-garde pieces that spoke to modern issues, current events, worldly matters… were passed on to us like grandma’s china, offerings to honor, savor, cherish and execute forward.
In our workshops together and with our short-lived company, “Fauve Conspiracy”, which a select group of her disciples founded under Rachel’s artistic direction, I was all around town and at “Highways Performance Space” quite often, creating, producing, directing, and appearing in all sorts of crazy performances, happenings, and multimedia excitement.
Rachel always said that as an artist, when one is given certain abilities and talents, when you’re a true artist you know your calling and you have a responsibility to the world to follow that calling, a responsibility to use that gift to better people, animals, the planet…one must honor that calling and create work that makes a difference, that shifts the world forward. She nurtured the activist in me to keep exploring different ways to use what I see, hear and feel, and turn it into intriguing, mysterious, political, stimulating moving images that lure the viewers to interpret powerfully and inquire within.
Under Rachel’s guidance, I created my most ambitious solo happening in 2005, “ALIEN LOVE”, a traveling psychedelic multimedia performance that took place over 5 hours in three venues, where the audience was surprisingly abducted and taken from venue to venue, culminating in an art opening in a diner with 44 pieces of my visually vibrant “Alien Art” paintings and a celebration with cake. What a night! Ah, those were the days, may Rachel rest in peace. She passed a few years ago but is still my guide for finding “the genie in the room” when I create my work.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I’ve done quite a bit of independent film and network television, and am excited to embark more on the world of cable shows and Netflix content. There are so many great shows that I fit into now, whereas my uniqueness in years of the past might not have been witnessed in the mainstream, I see a great amount of really good television series that I could easily be cast in, being such a versatile chameleon of looks and characters.
In the beginning, I was creating youtube videos, days long ago before Facebook and Instagram, so you can see a plethora of my short films, characters, music videos, interviews and vlogs on my “DelusionalDiva” channel. I also have a reality show called “A Palkowitz Now”, following the zany adventures of “The Diva” and her wacky Jewish parents from Long Island. Currently, I am co-writing and prepping to produce a web series called “Miss Inappropriate”, where I play tons of characters, like Tracey Ullman.
I serve on the Board of Directors and am a long-standing member of “The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (LAWTF)”, where I host, perform, speak on panels, and produce. I’ve also been directing and producing other people’s solo shows, and am accepting new clients this Fall, if any of our readers are interested, contact me! I coach kids and adults for auditions, cold readings, monologues, and I lead workshops and do private consulting on how to launch your solo show, your career, and Acting 101.
I’m a commissioned painter, had an alien art museum in the heart of East Hollywood for 17 years, full of my mixed media works that all deal with the themes of Aliens and the like. I’ve always been fascinated with the theme of Aliens and all of its ambiguity, and visit it in both my visual art and my performance art. My artwork is available on products and prints and constantly evolving. Check out www.DelusionalDiva.com and www.Society6.com/DelusionalDiva or drive by the corner of Broadway and Adams in Glendale and see my fully painted utility box, “GlendAlien Love”, covered with Aliens, pyramids, UFO’s and elephants.
My most accomplished theatrical piece to date is my last solo show, “CALLING AMERICA: DON’T HANG UP!!” which originated in LA, opened in San Francisco, and ultimately made it’s off-Broadway premiere at NY’s “Theatre Row”, where I played 50 characters in 90 minutes and had sold-out standing ovations. In the show I portray characters from the six years I spent doing political fundraising for a very conservative think-tank, attending meetings in Washington, D.C. and mixing and mingling with huge political figures who had no idea who I really was and the Hollywood Bohemian life I really lived. I consider those years the greatest acting job I’ve ever done, and I just had to write a show about it.
Inherent in all of my work is my message of, “Hey people, stop worrying about our differences and celebrate our “sames”, stop fighting over this and that, and let’s come together to worry about each other and the Planet!!” I could never stand prejudice or racism or hate, and we see so much of it in this time. I create work that pokes fun out of everyone and everything and leaves you moved to tears and questioning your own politics. Themes I live by and work to instill in my crafts are: “Love Thy Neighbor, For They Are You” and “Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover”.
I think what sets me apart from most Hollywood actors is my vast experience and training in so many different types of arts and media. I began in musical theatre at age 14 with my first role being Mae Peterson in “Bye Bye Birdie”, studied opera and Shakespeare early on, and had teachers and directors that helped nurture my comedic skills, I worked on physicality, voice, accents, timing… I watched “Saturday Night Live” as a kid and imagined myself on television. I lived as a punk-rocker in the 80’s in NY and was a rebel, and delved into the LGBT New York gay bar scene, so was lit up by drag performances and make-up and glitter and make believe. That was some of the first “performance art” that stirred my consciousness.
From Shakespeare and musical theatre, stand-up comedy, improv, to solo work, multimedia and the avant-garde… I create work that hopefully makes some difference, moves energy positively forward. I once had a fan come up to me after a performance, someone who had never seen my work, whom I had never met. She complimented me saying that I was so good, so funny, so like Lily Tomlin (thank you very much!). I asked her to pause for a moment and think about what she thought my show was about, what was she left with? Her reply was that it was about Humanity and how we should all have more respect for each other and treat each other with more compassion and pay attention to the Planet, our air, our water, our little animal friends… I thought “There, well, I did my job.”
The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Do whatever it takes and don’t give up. Team up with people, with organizations and groups that can help you. Trade, barter, work on the side, do what you have to do to get by, but don’t lose sight of your goals and your dreams. Work begets work, as long as you are in the mode, in the process, taking steps forward for your career, as long as you are in action, good things will come to you. You have to be bold, committed, and follow your path and calling. Use your friends, your communities, and social media to raise awareness about you and your projects, and find creative and unique ways to enroll people in supporting you and contributing to your work. Surround yourself with others who are up to things. I learned a long time ago, you won’t be discovered sitting around and thinking about being successful. You have to have chutzpah, ingenuity, and imagination, and if you keep working on your skills and putting yourself out there, taking classes, networking, partnering with others, you will get results. It’s not an overnight thing, it’s a long journey that takes perseverance and time. It’s worth it. Keep doing it, whatever your thing is. Do it!
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Look up SKY Palkowitz or The Delusional Diva. You can support me by becoming my internet friend and you can donate to my cause by going on my website and giving me a bunch of money! Buy tickets to whatever I’m up to, buy a piece of Art for yourself or as a gift. Invite me to your networking event, introduce me to a patron of the arts…Better though, connect me to that fabulous Casting Director that has a nice juicy role to fill, or that snazzy Franchised Agent you just know is a perfect fit for someone like me: versatile, professional, uninhibited and diverse, and out to make a difference!
- Address: Delusional Diva Productions
- Website: www.DelusionalDiva.com
- Phone: 646.242.3339
- Email: SKY@DelusionalDiva.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/DelusionalDiva
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/DelusionalDiva
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/DelusionalDiva
- Other: www.LinkedIn.com/DelusionalDiva
Jason Jenn, Cat Gwynn, Leo Garcia, SKY Palkowitz, Orit Harpaz, Rosemarie Carroll